Diane Keaton wrote an editorial for the Los Angeles Times, looking back on the unsuccessful fight to save the Ambassador Hotel. She listed reasons--green, economical reasons--why preservation makes more sense than new construction. Here's one I was surprise to learn: "construction of new structures alone consumes 40% of the raw materials that enter our economy every year. "
So pierce my ears and call me drafty...I didn't know that! But here's a breakdown. Per the U.S. Green Building Council and LEED Certification--
In the United States alone, buildings account for:
- 70% of electricity consumption,
- 39% of energy use,
- 39% of all carbon dioxide emissions,
- 40% of raw materials use,
- 30% of waste output
- 12% of potable water consumption.
Admittedly, this list--from an Alcoa newsletter--doesn't differentiate between new building or additions, repairs, etc. when giving that raw materials figure. Here's another quote, from Lafarge's Sustainable Development page:
- The environmental challenge: when a building's total lifecycle is considered, the construction industry:
- is responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions and waste in developed countries,
- accounts for 40 % of the energy demand in these countries.
Can you tell my google included 40%?
Be that as it may, I would love to see a side-by-side comparison of (column a) the cost of erecting a new building, including clearing the real estate of previous buildings, and the entire construction costs, and (column b) the cost of remediating/renovating/remodelling an older structure into something equally usable. And maybe a note about maintenance costs for each.